Jim Gorzelany Senior Contributor
Even as Elon Musk’s Tesla Motors goes in all in to ramp up production of its coming commercial electric semi-truck, the company just announced that its Model S Long Range Plus sedan is now EPA-rated to run for 402 miles on a charge. That makes Tesla’s range-topping car the first electric vehicle to break the 400-mile barrier. The company says that represents a nearly 20 percent increase in operating range over a 2019-vintage Model S 100D that featured an identical battery pack array.
The car was most recently rated at 391 miles. By comparison, the first Model S to roll off the assembly line back in 2012 could only muster what was then a still impressive 265 miles with a full charge. At that, the Model S remains just as quick as ever off the line, able to make the leap to 60 mph from a standing start in a mere 3.7 seconds.
Rather than reinvent the power cell, Tesla extended the car’s range via a series of tweaks and improvements learned from the Model 3 and Model Y’s engineering and manufacturing process. For starters, the already heavy Model S shaved off a few pounds—which is the quickest and easiest way to improve a vehicle’s efficiency—via use of some lighter weight materials, particularly as regards the battery pack and drive units.
Also, new 8.5-inch-wide aero wheels reduce the vehicle’s aerodynamic drag, and are paired with a new lower rolling-resistance set of tires. Together they’re claimed to boost the Model S’s range by around two percent.
Tesla also replaced the previous mechanical oil pump in the car’s rear AC-induction unit with an electronic one to optimize lubrication regardless of the vehicle’s speed, along with other mechanical fixes to gain another two percent of range. The company also improved the Model S’ regenerative braking system to operate at a lower speed and deceleration rate to send additional energy back to the battery pack.